In 1971, Percy Ricks, an art educator in Wilmington, formed the artists collective Aesthetic Dynamics Inc. in order to better represent Black artists in Delaware. That same year the collective staged the exhibit Afro-American Images 1971 at the Wilmington Armory. In celebration of its upcoming fiftieth anniversary, the Delaware Art Museum will be remounting Afro-American Images 1971.
The Delaware Art Museum’s exhibit will run from October 23, 2021 through January 23, 2022 and will feature 130 works that were installed in the original Afro-American Images. Using these pieces, the exhibit will interpret the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s and Delaware’s role in that movement. The museum also aims to collect oral histories from community members who experienced the 1971 exhibit or the state’s Black Arts Movement and present these in a digital humanities project.
Aesthetic Dynamics Vice President Arnold Hurtt and the museum’s Curator of Contemporary Art Margaret Winslow organized the exhibit with assistance from a community advisory committee. The exhibit is also being supported by a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant. The Art Works award was one of 1,015 grants of this category awarded nationwide.
In a statement, Margaret Winslow described how the exhibit aims to address both archival absences related to the Black Arts Movement and the Delaware Art Museum’s role in the exclusion of Black artists. “Restaging the original exhibition, 50 years later, addresses numerous historic gaps such as the biased archival record and lack of local institutional support. By collaborating with Aesthetic Dynamics members 50 years later the Delaware Art Museum is afforded the opportunity to investigate its engagement with the Black community,” Winslow said.